To be obligated is a sticky feeling. It is so difficult to move ahead, to enjoy, to take time for whatever else is distracting you whilst the obligation hangs over your head: Got to write to so and so; must phone him or her; should see that one or this one; have to buy a present for when I see…. And the time slips away and the intentions become so intense that sometime you can swear you actually did send that card. Really! A difficult thing, obligation. Birthdays. Christmas. Special events. Things that one must remember to…
The Christmas letters from others arrive. In January we did this, in February we did that. Then there’s this one’s health and that one’s wedding, and… one wonders where the time got to. So much of life wrapped up in those annual reports. Each day is as important as the next, really, yet of all of the weeks and months the isolated moments are those we feel others may like to hear (or at least those that we feel we’d like others to hear!) and we send them or receive them and hope our missives may be answered, privately, individually, caringly, personally.
There were over 100 friends at my wedding. There are over 100 friends I work with. There are over 700 students a year that I know by name. There are more than 100 theatre friends. There are other intimate personal friends, along with couples as friends and then business associates and overseas connections, and then there’s, oh yes, also the family, my family, her family, and our family. And the sheer volume of correspondence to each, if all of us did write, would take up hours of writing and reading. So we hope that somehow people just know we love them, we care for them, we think often of them, we consider and pray for their welfare, we hope the best for their futures and we may even treasure the past, but we can scarce write to each and every one, we can scarce send a card to each and every one, and perhaps all too true for most of us, we even can scarce spare much of a thought for each and every one. Ever flipped through an old address book? Gee, when did I last…?
Thing is, obligation would have us send the card, ensure the contact, reach out, buy the present, and even go and visit, and that sense of obligation is rather sad, for me. The commercialization of obligation is both subtle and crass. It yells at me from the department stores and the TV, and it lurks at me from the seat of my heart where I feel its laziness to get up and go write the letter, make the call, lick the stamp, walk it to the post-box. Even an e-mail, given the volume of correspondents, has become too much; and so we send the generic letter, posting it out to all and sundry, basically stating a really significant truth, for me: When I see you, I love you very much. Always.
Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday. Bless the Occasion! And to all, may every day be bright, and every sleep a very good night! G’night!